Vernal Equinox, 2017

Tomorrow, we celebrate 12 years of marriage!
And now we are 12!

Today is our 12th wedding anniversary, and also the Vernal Equinox. 48 seasons together as a married couple! Here’s to many, many more with my beloved.

We kinda forgot to make plans to celebrate our anniversary (whoops!), but we *did* celebrate the Equinox as a family, so at least there’s that!

Service was "in the round" today. Very lovely!

Madrigal and I started the day with an Equinox Celebration at our UU church, which was a really lovely intergenerational service with music and dancing and seed-planting. Then, the whole family took off for Naples, NY, to go the Cumming Nature Center for the last day of their Maple Sugaring events.

Maple Sugaring time! (It's actually way too cold - the sap is frozen in all of the buckets!)

It’s actually too cold right now – the sap is all frozen in the buckets, but it was still a lot of fun to walk the trails and learn a bit about how maple syrup is made.

Watching the big pot boiling down the sap.

M even practiced carrying the sap buckets with a wooden yoke:

Ready to carry some sap!

The sugar shack was a nice, warm stop along the trail!

Running to the sugar shack!

Madrigal was SO happy on the trails, and kept saying, “mama, it’s so beautiful, it’s just like my dreams coming true!”

She kept saying, "mama, it's so beautiful, this is my dream come true!" Gotta take this girl on more hikes in the woods, because apparently that's what her good dreams are all about!!

We’ve got to take this girl on more hikes in the woods, because apparently that really is what her favorite dreams are all about! We even got her to take a photo of us, and she did a great job!

Maddy took a picture of us!

This kid loves snow:

A girl and her giant snowball.

And also maple candy!

Sampling the maple goodness.

We followed up the hike with a few gifts for M (we celebrate each turn of the seasons with “something to do, something to wear, and something to read”):

Maddy's Equinox "do, wear, read" gifts: Snapcircuits, two awesome books, and a new sun hat (not pictured)

She got Snapcircuits, two awesome books, and a new (red!) sun hat, and was very excited about all of them. Then, we ended the day with our now-traditional candles at dinner (we light them for every Equinox and every Solstice):

Candles for our (one day early) Equinox celebration.

A lovely way to celebrate the coming Spring! I wish all of you a very happy Equinox, and a delightful Spring.

This is not Portland.

Showing off a finished sleeve (plus a ton of snow)
(but I do have Elle-Melle sleeve-progress to show off after I ramble about snow!)

I was supposed to be in Portland today, presenting at the CCCC Convention, but Winter Storm Stella had other ideas. But of course, as these things go, I only discovered that getting there in time to present would be impossible AFTER digging out the driveway and going all the way to the airport. Thankfully, one member of our presentation team (ironically, the one named Stella!) made it there, so I’m all set to present via Skype later today.

so much snow.
(totally dressed for Skype – pretty, professional knitwear on top, comfy cords on the bottom!)

Anyway, back to the snow. Like so many folks in the north eastern US, we got quite a dumping from Winter Storm Stella. It started Tuesday afternoon and then did not let up until Wednesday afternoon. My husband and I took turns shoveling so as to make things easier, but let me tell you a fun fact about shoveling when you are getting a couple of inches of snow per hour: the air is so thick with snow that when you try to take a deep breath (because, oh, let’s say you’re out of breath from carrying 25lb shovelfuls of snow from the front of your house to your backyard because you’ve run out of room in front) you end up breathing in snow, which makes you choke and then you set off a wheezing fit. It’s FUN! But on the plus side, you do get to feel like a pretty awesome badass for moving all that snow, especially if, like me, you put on some headphones and rock out to Florence and the Machine while you shovel. This morning, I half gave up on shoveling, and just used the shovel to break up the massive snow-boulders at the end of our driveway so that I could pick them up and chuck them atop the massive 4.75 foot snow wall that now surrounds our house.

(Massive snow wall, front view)

We have a 4.75 foot wall of snow around our house now. Good thing there's no more snow in the forecast because we are seriously out of room!
(Massive snow wall, back view)

Of course, snow is TONS of (non-sarcastic) fun when you’re a 5 year old who does not have to clear the driveway and attempt to work at home during a snowstorm that follows a devastating windstorm (we got 80mph winds last week that took out power lots of places, including my daughter’s school, so we’ve now had 2 wind days followed by 2 snow days and let’s just say that’s a lot of no-school days for a household with two working parents to manage!)

My beautiful snowbaby :)
(My beautiful snowbaby)

M was so happy to go on “adventures” in her snow gear with me on Tuesday, and I will say, once I gave up on the idea of getting any more work done, it was pretty fun for me, too!

Snow Day Snuggles.
(Snow Day Snuggles)

Anyway, enough about snow – let’s talk about my grown-up Elle Melle! I’ve finished sleeve number one, and picked up the stitches for sleeve number two, rendering it at least somewhat wearable, so I decided to use the beautiful snow backdrop to take some progress shots.

Making progress on Elle Melle

I’m really happy with how the fit is coming out – I know that after blocking, it will end up slightly longer than it currently is, so it’s looking like it’ll be pretty much perfect! Here it is from the back (and slightly out of focus, but it’s COLD and I didn’t feel like getting fussy with the camera):

From the back

And here’s a closeup of the raglan edge – ain’t it purty?

Close-up of raglan join

For future reference, here is what I did: I picked up EVERY stitch (from the outside leg of the reverse stockinette stitch that runs up the edge when I do my sl1, p1 edging that I talked about in my last post), and then I knit a round in which I ssk’d each pair of stitches (to cut the number in half, since the pattern instructs to pick up every other stitch) down one side, and k2tog’d each pair up the other side, and THEN I followed the pattern directions for the raglan short-rows. One other difference is that I slip the first stitch both when I purl back across AND when I knit back across (the pattern doesn’t have you slip the first stitch on the knit rows). These two things helped me avoid the gappiness that I find occurs if you follow the pattern directions exactly.

Over the shoulder of the finished sleeve.

I’m just so happy with how it’s turning out, and I can’t wait to finish it – but it turns out to be terribly difficult to knit after you’ve utterly blown out your forearms carrying shovelfuls of snow for two days. (It’s also strangely hard to type, or do anything that requires my fingers to listen to my brain and not be clumsy.)

I hope you all survived Winter Storm Stella, friends! I’m sad that I’m not in Portland, but at least it’s really beautiful outside with the sunshine on the bright white coating of snow.

making progress on Elle Melle (for me!)

Being silly with my knit-in-progress.

I’m making good progress on my me-sized Elle Melle now that I don’t have the Fiddlehead Mittens as my object of obsession. Generally speaking, I’m a serially-monogamous knitter, though I’ll make exceptions for having something small like a baby hat or plain mitten or easy cowl on the needles for on-the-go purposes; the Fiddlehead Mittens, with their colorwork, did not fit this bill and so became my one-and-only for the time I was knitting them. But now, my attentions are back on the Elle Melle sweater, and I’ve got a front and most of the back finished!


I’m really loving how this is turning out – I’m using the pattern as a guide, but redoing the math to yield a size that’s a bit bigger around, but less long in the body, than the biggest size in the kids pattern. I’m also making a few of my characteristic adjustments, like the way that I edge knits when I’m planning to pick up stitches for button bands or sleeves:


I slip the edge stitch, and then do a single stitch in reverse stockinette next to it, which creates a lovely edge, especially if I pick up from the outer leg of that little column of knit stitches running up the edge. The slipped stitch looks so nice nestled between the body and the button band, or along the raglan line, between the solid-colored sleeve and the striped body. This means I have to adjust the decreases, but I think it creates a nice line when they’re done a bit further from the edge.

My only complaint about the knitting so far has to do with the yarn. I’m using Classic Elite Mohawk Wool, and while the yarn itself is perfectly fine (it’s no Beaverslide Sport/Sock, but it’s nice enough), for some reason, my black skeins were utterly FULL of weak spots; I kind of think that the yarn got nicked by a box-cutter, because there were a lot of spots that looked like all but one of the plies had been cut. So I ended up with lots of little balls when I wound the yarn from the skeins, and then while knitting, discovered more spots (and often had to unknit back to give myself enough of a tail to weave in). So many ends!

Look at all those ends. I don't know if my skeins of black Classic Elite Mohawk Wool got knicked by a box cutter or what, but there have been SO many breaks in the yarn, where only part of one ply was holding it together. Very frustrating!

I think it’s going to be a great sweater in the end, and I don’t even mind end-weaving all that much, but gosh, if I’d’ve known…well, I might’ve gone for the Beaverslide Sport/Sock instead. I had gone back and forth about it when I was planning this sweater, and decided to try the Mohawk in hopes that the nylon would give it a bit more sturdiness (and also because the Mohawk was on sale!), but alas, all I’ve got is a mess of ends and no chance of the glorious blooming that happens with the woolen-spun yarn. And for a woolen-spun yarn, Beaverslide Sport/Sock isn’t even THAT delicate, I think thanks to the mohair that’s blended in. Ah, well, they can’t all be winners, and I’ve got some Beaverslide Sport/Sock for a me-sized stripey pocket sweater, anyway, so I’ll get to knit with the good stuff again :)

Fiddleheads: Finished!!

Loving my new mittens

Last Wednesday, while my upper-level writing students did group work, I finished the lining of Fiddlehead Mitten number two, and this Saturday I was able to take Real Camera photos of them. I could not possibly be more delighted with how they turned out!

Fiddlehead Mittens!

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Fiddlehead Mittens, by Adrian Bazilia
Yarn: the entirety of 1 skein of Lettlopi in “Glacier Blue Heather”, plus parts of 5 mini-skeins of Bartlettyarns Worsted from Rhinebeck 2016, plus a little over one skein of Berocco Ultra Alpaca Light in “Pea Soup” for the linings.
Needles: size 3 dpns (yes, that did make for a really brutal i-cord cast-on with the Bartlettyarns!)
Time to knit: a little more than one month

Pretty Pretty Mitten!

In all honesty, the Fiddleheads were essentially knit on a whim – I noticed my little bag of mini-skeins, thought they might be nice for a colorwork mitten, and the Fiddlehead pattern immediately sprang to mind. I wasn’t sure what to use as the background color yarn, but I really liked the look of the pattern sample that used light blue, and I thought of the Lettlopi from the Lopi Affection cardigan I started and then abandoned. The pairing worked out wonderfully!

Showing off the lining

For the lining, I did some stash diving, and found some Berocco Ultra Alpaca Light in “Pea Soup”, which didn’t exactly “match” any of the colors in the mitten, but I think it coordinated quite well…and it let me stick to my stash-busting intentions!

Standing up!

The dense knitting (Bartlettyarns on 3’s is no joke!) means that my mittens stand up on their own (and conveniently, this makes a “W”, my initial! Also, holy moly do we ever need to repaint our porch!)

Happy with my new mittens!

They are so warm and comfortable, and I just couldn’t be happier with them. True story: when my daughter saw me trying on the finished mittens, her first comment was, “mama, you should make a sweater with that pattern!”

I swear she hadn’t heard me plotting, but kiddo, I agree 100%! And the yarn is all ready, and the charts are looking good, and the math has been done, so all that remains is to find some time when I can cast on!

The Lopi for the Fiddlehead-inspired yoke sweater I'm dreaming up arrived! (The Glacier Blue is from my stash - already have a sweater's worth for the body!)
Future Fiddlehead Yoke Cardigan!

mitten progress!


I finished knitting the outer Fiddlehead Mittens last weekend, and I could not be more delighted with how they turned out!

Doing silly poses, at M's direction.
(M was behind me in that picture, encouraging me to make silly faces for the camera!)

End-weaving took awhile, with all those colors, but I was pretty charmed with how my pile of ends looked in the end.

End-weaving complete.

The next step was to knit mitten linings…and I almost didn’t want to, because look how gorgeous those floats are on the inside of the mitten!

Inside out.

I’ve had some pea-green Ultra Alpaca light in my stash for AGES, and decided to use it for the mitten lining. It doesn’t match any of the colors in the outer mitten, but I think it coordinates nicely:

Using Ultra Alpaca from the stash for lining. It doesn't match any of the colors, but it coordinates nicely.

On Thursday, one of my classes had a work period, and since it’s early the semester, I didn’t have any grading/feedbacking to do while they worked, so I knit the thumb section of the mitten lining:

My students had a work period this morning, so I was able to do the thumb increases on my mitten lining!

I did a bit more knitting in my office yesterday…

Working on my Fiddlehead Mittens, in my poorly-lit office.

…and by this morning, I had finished the lining for mitten number one!

Finished the lining for mitten number one!

I’m hopeful that by next weekend, I can have a finished set of lined Fiddlehead Mittens!

The state of the world and particularly of my country is still weighing very heavily on me, and knitting is one of the things I can do to soothe myself. I don’t intend to soothe myself into inaction – very much the opposite, I hope to be able to keep myself level enough to be able to actively resist what is happening. Speaking of the combination of knitting and resistance, if you have not yet see Bristol Ivy’s amazing Peace de Resistance mitten pattern, go check it out. She’s contributing the proceeds to a rolling list of social justice organizations, and has already raised an impressive amount of money. I’m so proud of what our community of socially-minded knitters can accomplish together. I’d like to knit a pair for myself, and just need to find the right stash yarn for the job. I’ve got some hot pink Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock that I haven’t found any other use for, but I’m not sure what I’d combine it with for good contrast. Time to go stash diving.

things we do with maddy: rally for resistance

(let’s make it a better story)

This weekend, at our local People’s Solidarity Rally, we joined millions of people around the country and around the world in registering our objections to what President Trump intends to do (and already has done, simply in rising to the position that he has in the manner that he did), and we brought M with us. The rally in our city was not particularly large, but to M it was HUGE.

Part of the crowd.

I think it was very powerful for my daughter to see a large crowd of people who are resisting Trump and affirming love the way that we are…she knows we are not alone.

Showing off her sign at the rally. She got LOTS of compliments on it!

She insisted on making her own sign – I asked her what she wanted me to write on it, and she told me which words (and which to make “all big letters”), then I created the bubble letters and she colored them in. She was very proud of it, and wanted me to share this picture with Hillary Clinton (I’m not entirely sure how to do that, but I should figure it out!):

All done! She decided the message, I made the bubble letters, she colored them in. I'm proud of you, baby girl! (Now I gotta decide what to put on mine!)

Madrigal has been a passionate supporter of Hillary Clinton ever since watching parts of the DNC convention with us this summer. She’s 5, so her understanding of what’s going on is obviously not incredibly sophisticated, but she definitely came to her own conclusion about what Trump is (“a bully who doesn’t love everyone and wants to make us hate and hurt each other”) and who Hillary Clinton is (“a really strong woman who loves everyone and wants to help us take care of each other”) and I’m just really proud of her engagement. And of course, heartbroken that she did not get to see Hillary sworn in as president, and that instead she will have to grow up in the world that Trump and his enablers are shaping. I can’t even articulate how much that breaks my heart. But Hillary Clinton is no less a role model for my daughter in “defeat” (she did win the popular vote by an astounding margin, after all).

Walking to the solidarity rally! (We can walk to downtownROC from our house!)

We were able to walk to the rally from our house (we only live about one mile outside of downtown). In our matching pink hats (and sweaters, because she adorably insists on matching me whenever possible), and with my husband carrying signs, it was quite obvious where we were headed. We got several honks and cheers from cars that passed us, a few high-fives from fellow walkers…and one jerk in a big SUV honked and gave us the finger. I…struggle to imagine the mindset that feels powerful upon flipping off a 5 year old.

But to circle back around to the picture I opened this post with…the idea that the story of the universe is still being written, and that we have a part to play in how it turns out. I *love* that idea. That’s why I think it is so important to speak up about injustice, to make noise, to make “good trouble”. There’s that famous line about the long arc of the moral universe bending towards justice, and the thing that’s always bugged me slightly about the usual framing of it is that it seems to assume that there is an moral universe that’s just out there, doing its long arc, and we just experience it. I know some people find that meaningful and inspiring, but to me, it seems like a framing that inspires complacency. As a Humanist, I hold that if there is a moral universe at all, it is one of our own making, and thus the arc that bends towards justice only does so if we *make* it bend. We are the makers of this story and I hope we can make it good.

Me and my girl at the Rochester People's Solidarity Rally
(you bet I put the UU 1st Principle on my sign!)

Oh, M, I’m so sorry this is the direction things have gone, but I will be by your side fighting for what is right and trying to make the future you inherit as good as it can possibly be, and bending that arc back in the direction of justice.

a tale of two hats

Maddy stole my pussyhat and wore it for violin practice (she had an AMAZINGLY good practice session tonight!)


I promised a post about the hats M and I were wearing in my last post, so here you go! When I found the body and sleeves of M’s now-finished sweater, I was actually digging through my yarn bins in search of pink yarn (which does not feature heavily in my stash), because I wanted to knit a Pussyhat to wear in solidarity with those marching in DC this Saturday. I’ll be participating in a local solidarity rally that day, and as a knitter, I could not resist joining a social activism effort that involved knitting. But being the sort of knitter that I am, I also could not follow the pattern as written – that’s just not how I roll!

The yarn I found was a full skein of Cascade Eco+ yarn in “Crushed Berry”, and I promptly cast on for the first hat.

Here is what I did for hat #1: Cast on 80 stitches on size 7 needles using tubular cast on, and complete the set-up rows flat, then join to knit in the round. After the join, use 2×2 garter rib until it seems “long enough” (this ain’t a precise pattern, people!). Then, switch to size 9 needles and stockinette stitch, and knit until I could put the hat on my head and pull the two sides together at the top. Then I knit to 20 stitches past the end-of-round marker (so that the join would be centered and could be put at the “back” of the hat if the end-weaving didn’t quite neaten it enough) flipped it inside out and did a 3-needle bindoff. Took just a few hours of knitting, while listening to podcasts.

And then my daughter stole it from me the second she got home from school! It was very cute on her, so I let her keep it, and cast on for a second one for me – this time, with 4 extra stitches (because the one M took was a bit too snug on me, in truth), so the same process as I described above, but with 84 rather than 80 stitches.

Knitting pussyhat number two with the very needy wearer of pussyhat number one in my lap. It's been a very "need to be touching mama" sort of day here.


I have a LOT of yarn leftover (Cascade Eco+ skeins are HUGE), so may have time to knit another couple of hats for friends who are going to the DC march or to the local rally, but I’m not sure, because the semester starts this week so I’m about to lose my lovely daytime knitting time. I know a pink hat with kitty ears isn’t going to change the world, but it’s helping me feel connected, and frankly, knitting around and around is about the most soothing thing I could possibly do, and right now, I need soothing so that I cope with all of the anxiety and emotion I feel about what is happening to my country.



So that’s the tale of two hats, which may become even more hats. M and I will be twins at our local solidarity march, and I hope to lead by example, and show M how to live a life of nonviolent resistance to injustice.